What LA did right and wrong in this year’s fight against COVID

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This COVID-19 testing site at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science was opened specifically to help support LA’s Black community. Photo by Ted Soqui for KCRW.

This year will forever be synonymous with the coronavirus pandemic and the death, illness, and misery left in its wake. As December ends, Greater LA gets a long view about how California and Los Angeles fought the virus, and whether this battle prepared us for future public health challenges. 

One of the things that LA got right, according to Dr. Anne W. Rimoin, professor of epidemiology at UCLA's Fielding of School of Public Health, is shutting down things early.

“This was really important in slowing the spread. I think we would be a lot worse off today if we hadn’t taken those measures that we took early on.”

However, Rimoin says she would have kept restrictions going longer, “We’re in the midst of a massive spike in California, but that’s because we took off the breaks too soon.”

Rimoin says she understands this is a complicated issue without an easy solution. “Nothing is happening in a vacuum, and lives are at stake not just because of the COVID pandemic, but people need to work.

One of the problems, according to Rimoin, is that officials did not always provide consistent messaging.

“When you don’t have consistent messaging from our leaders, then it creates a lot of confusion, and it leaves a lot of room for misinformation and disinformation, and that’s what’s happened.”

Rimoin says the pandemic has laid bare vulnerabilities in our society that must be addressed. That includes investing more in public health, having better surveillance, and being able to react quickly to prevent a future pandemic.

“I hope that people pay attention, and we don’t lose the lessons that we’re learning right now.” 

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